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Plucky Poplar dog remembered for wartime bravery

PUBLISHED: 15:52 11 November 2010

A Blue Cross animal charity worker rescues a cat from a bombed building during the Blitz in the Second World War. In 1940 alone The Blue Cross helped over 150,000 animals injured or made homeless by the bombing.

A Blue Cross animal charity worker rescues a cat from a bombed building during the Blitz in the Second World War. In 1940 alone The Blue Cross helped over 150,000 animals injured or made homeless by the bombing.

The Blue Cross

As the nation paid tribute to the sacrifice of all those who fought and died in battle the bravery of animals was also recognised.

Amongst the animals whose war service was honoured today was Rip, the little dog from Poplar who was bombed out and joined the Air Raid Precaution wardens to help find people missing in bomb raids in the East End and comfort families taking shelter from the Blitz.

He was given the highest honour bestowed to animals - the PDSA Dickin Medal - the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

Rip was found by air raid warden Edward King as an orphan of the war during a heavy air raid in 1940. No one knew where he came from and he was adopted by the wardens in Southill Street, Poplar.

And as the Advertiser in April 1945 relates: “Whenever there was an incident in the district Rip was there, never in the way and giving invaluable assistance in finding people trapped. Dogs are now trained for this sort of work, but Rip was the first.

“He is known to everybody in the post area, for on his nightly visits to the shelters with the Warden he has made many friends, some of whom give him his little tit-bits.”

Rip helped cheer up people in the air raid shelters and these photos taken by the Ministry of Information were published in Britain and America during the war. In all he was photographed 21 times during his war service.

At the end of the war the Dumb Friends League awarded Rip the Blue Cross medal.

Rip died in 1948 and is buried at the PDSA’s cemetery at Ilford where his headstone reads “Rip, DM, We Also Serve” and last year his Dickin Medal was sold to a private British collector at auction by Spinks, fetching £24,250.

Today animal charities gathered at the Animal War Memorial in Park Lane, to highlight the remarkable work of animals in the armed forces through the decades. The group, which Battersea Dogs and cats Home, Petplan and the Blue Cross, observed a two minute silence at 11am.

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